Bourne Woods provided the hilliest and muddiest challenge yet of this season’s Frostbite Friendly cross country league on Sunday.
Nene Valley Harriers took the top spot with several strong performances from its Bourne-based runners.
The result means the Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire club will go into the final fixture in Huntingdon as the league leaders.
On one of the sunniest days of the year so far, the Harriers were led in by John Pike in the senior race, who narrowly missed out on the top spot to Cambridge & Coleridge’s (C&C) Sullivan Smith by 9 seconds, posting a time of 28:27.
He was closely followed by Adam Birch in fourth place with 29:15.
The third Harrier in was Aaron Shepherd, who dramatically fell twice on the rain-soaked trails and did well to finish in 15th in 31:17.
Lance Hemmings, Sean Beard, 17-year-old Nathan Tweedie, and 15-year-old Bradley Spurdens closed in the scoring team, all finishing in the top 40 overall.
Ruth Jones was the first senior woman to cross the line for the club in third place overall in 34:40, with C&C’s Carla Brown just snatching the top spot from Ramsey’s Lisa Marriott.
All three tackled the Southern Cross Country Championships the week before at Parliament Hill in London, so clearly enjoy tackling muddy terrain.
Sixteen-year-old Emily Brand ran impressively in her first race of this distance to take the second female spot for the club, with Louise Blake just 33 places behind completing the scoring for the Harriers.
There was further success in the junior race, with the club’s Will Baker winning the 1.5m race outright. Jack Weddup, Dan Lornie, Jonathan Friend and Codey Holland also scored highly, with Paula Naylor taking top honours as first female Harrier home in 48th overall.
The youngsters’ steely resolve on a very tough course resulted in a superb score of 124, a huge improvement from the previous league race at March when they posted 329. The junior team finished third on the day, putting them fourth overall in the table.
l Hosts of the event were Bourne Town Harriers who thanked all those who helped in organising it.
Just fewer than 500 athletes descended on Bourne Woods for what was the fifth leg of the Frostbite League races.
Although the weather was kind, with clear blue skies, conditions underfoot were very treacherous with heavy mud on large parts of the demanding course.
In the junior event, 16 of the club’s young athletes took part in a large field of over 150 runners.
Cameron Everist was the first Bourne Town Harrier home in an excellent third place. This followed his second in the last Frostbite race, demonstrating his rich vein of form.
Scott Taylor followed him home in his season’s debut Frostbite race to finish sixth.
Beth Howells was the first girl Bourne Harrier to finish, coming in with a commendable 35th place.
Matthew Colman, in his first Frostbite race, finished in 40th, closely followed by Elin James (44th), Toby Everist (55th), Alex Galpin (58th), Molly Bennett (80th), Daniel Lawrence (98th), Maisie Brownlow (121st), Alex Stubley (139th), Abi Cooper in her first Frostbite race (140th) and Dan Galpin (152nd).
Special mention should go to Sian Manzur (157th), Lewis Jackson (165th) and Harry Cocking (169th), all of whom competed in their first competitive race. Hopefully it will be the first of many.
The Bourne Town Harriers’ junior team finished in fourth place on the day, maintaining their league position of eighth.
In the senior event, there was another large field of athletes with 13 runners representing the Bourne club.
After an arduous struggle over the five mile course, the first Bourne Harrier home in a superb 12th place and probably the performance of the day for the club was Jonathan Palmer.
He was followed by Mick Howells who registered his best placing of the series (45th) as did Tim Wigley (47th) and Vaughan Roberts (71st). Phil Galpin (78th) and Richard Lomas-Brown (93rd) put in great efforts.
Bourne’s first lady Harrier was Suzie Brownlow who finished in her series best 127th place.
Brian McLean (181st), Mark Wade (191st), Richard Pearson (239th), David Grace (277th), Nicky Asplin (287th) and Melissa Woodcock (326th) completed the senior contingent.
The senior team finished 12th on the day, consolidating their league position of 14th.
The next Frostbite league race will be at Hinchingbrooke School on March 2.